Research Associate Professor, Institute for Environmental Science and Policy
Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy
University of Illinois at Chicago
412 South Peoria Street
256 CUPPAH, MC 348
Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology, August 2011
Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, September 2003
B.A. in Environmental Economics & Natural Resource Management, Renmin (People’s) University of China, July 2001
B.S. in Environmental Engineering, Tsinghua University, July 2001
Dr. Ai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy and a Research Assistant Professor in the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy. She is also an affiliated faculty in the Urban Transportation Center.
Dr. Ai’s research and teaching interests focus on urban environmental planning, material and waste management, urban metabolism, sustainable economic development, and system analysis of urban sustainability. Largely quantitative, her research involves multidisciplinary methods, including material flow analysis, spatial analysis, socioeconomic impact analysis, environmental economic valuation methods, and system modeling.
Dr. Ai’s research has been funded by the US National Science Foundation, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) National University Rail (NURail) Center, the US DOT National Center for Transit Research (NCTR), Illinois DOT, UIC Great Cities Institute Faculty Scholarship, UIC Area of Excellence Award, and UIC Chancellor’s Discovery Fund for Multidisciplinary Research.
Dr. Ai has been engaged in material- and community-specific waste management, with a focus on electronic waste, post-consumer carpet, municipal solid waste, and most recently, food waste and electric vehicle batteries. She is also examining urban universities as small-scale urban systems and collaborating with computer scientists, environmental health scientists, civil and environmental engineers on urban metabolism modeling. Connecting environmental and transportation planning, she led two projects on Environmental Impact Assessment of Rail Infrastructure in Illinois and Commuting-Related Environmental Impacts in the Healthcare Sector.
Dr. Ai has worked for the World Bank, the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., and the Georgia State Department of Natural Resources. Her previous work experiences include the application of GIS in environmental protection, urban and environmental indicators, and the socioeconomic impact analysis of natural disasters. Currently, Dr. Ai serves as the Chair of the Resource Conservation Technical Coordinating Committees of the Air & Waste Management Association (2014-2016).